Fargo 1.08 Review: “The Heap”

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The crazy ride that has been FX’s Fargo continued as strong as ever this week, and for an episode with minimal murder, this one was both compelling and extremely satisfying.

This episode was very much a character study on some of our main players. We start off with Lester, as he buys a new dryer.  This may not seem significant to most, but since the old dryer was partly responsible for the murder of his wife, I’d say that this is a step in the right direction. From there we follow him through a conversation with his brother’s wife (in which she gives Lester a whole bunch of his stuff), and that inspires Lester to go about decorative and wardrobe changes, and completes his transformation into a new man who doesn’t take people’s crap. How do I know that last bit? Because as Lester was being hit on by Linda, his co-worker, the Widow Hess and her two sons came in to bully Lester (just like Sam) into getting their insurance money, and as soon as the boys threaten him, he puts staples in both of their heads! Yikes! But that causes the family Hess to back down and Linda to become even more interested in a new, more confident Lester Nygaard. Not quite sure that it’s a good thing, but you can’t fault the guy for trying to move forward.

Molly also very much comes into focus during this episode. First, she adorably receives a bunch of flowers from Gus. That’s important, because I love it. Also, feelings. She then returns to work (a day too early, according to Bill) and she gets right back to work on the case. She feels extremely strongly that Lester worked with Malvo and that they’re behind it, but Bill will have none of it. Bill considers the case solved, and there is a wonderfully powerful scene between the two of them. Molly is upset that the case doesn’t tie together well, but Bill rebuts “that’s just the way it is sometimes” (as Gary Valentine’s criminally underused Deputy Knudsen looks on). Last week I gave props to Bob Odenkirk for being at the top of his game post-Saul Goodman, but Allison Tolman brings an added presence that just feels really powerful. After this scene, Molly seems to accept the executive decision, and you can see her thoughts drifting toward Gus. Her desk is lined with flowers from him, after all. They have just the cutest phone conversation. More on this later.

In a couple of less prominent scenes, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele return as the FBI agents who literally let Malvo walk right past them, Agents Pepper and Budge. They spend awhile trying to convince their boss that they can still get this guy, before he announces that they’ll be working in the file room from now on. Yikes!

Also, Malvo decides to go and visit Mr. Wrench in the hospital. He kills the security guard pretty handily (who was the only casualty of the night) and has one of those weird, Malvo-y conversations with Mr. Wrench. While Mr. Wrench is angry at first (Malvo DID kill his partner, after all), Malvo calms him down and commends him for getting so close to catching him. Apparently, no one has ever done that. So Malvo leaves the key to cuffs binding Mr. Wrench on his chest, and leaves. The implication is that Mr. Wrench could end up going to work for Malvo, or they could end up working together in some capacity. I’m intrigued by that but it’s almost all we saw of either character tonight, and I’m hoping it will be revisited.

Then towards the end of the episode, as Gus is talking to Molly, there is a plot twist I did not see coming: a time jump! One year in the future. Gus is still alive and he’s realized his dream of becoming a mailman. I was sure I knew where this was going, but I kept waiting for everything to go all Game of Thrones on me by crushing my hopes and dreams. BUT THEY WEREN’T !! THEY WEREN’T CRUSHED! Gus returns home to Greta and A PREGNANT MOLLY!!! I was so excited!! Molly is apparently still employed by the Bemidji Sheriff’s department, and hasn’t entirely let go of the case. She still calls the FBI from time to time, but they’re busy with the Patriot Act (it’s 2007) to help her out.

As we continue on in the future, we see Agents Pepper and Budge still working in the file room, but stumbling across their old photo of Malvo, showing they haven’t forgotten what put them there. Also a year later, Bill Oswalt and his wife had taken in a foster (child? more like teenager or young adult) from Sudan, and they had a crazy meeting that involved one of Stavros’ stores. But perhaps the most interesting future story (aside from my personal feelings about Gus and Molly being married) was that of Lester. We see Lester, with his hair colored, receiving a salesman of the year award from his company. He is now married to his co-worker, Linda, and gives a confident speech. After the ceremony, he sends his wife upstairs (she’s tired) and he goes to the bar (following another woman…ugh). He’s exchanged glances with this woman a few times, before looking to the other side of the bar and seeing none other than Lorne Malvo. The man who started all this mess (but gave him a sweet new life in the process), is sitting across the room. The music gets dark (I noticed because of the sudden tone change) but it was extremely fitting and really well done.

So like I said, tonight’s episode was a little more character focused, especially in terms of Molly and Lester. That being said, the acting superlative tonight HAS to go to Allison Tolman. She’s been great through the whole run so far as Molly, but this week she stepped it up in terms of character depth. I really enjoyed seeing her give in to Gus’ advances and make a date with him, and then flashing forward to see their life together. She was brilliant on both sides of the flashback, and is one of the best actors on the show. The scene between she and Bob Odenkirk about the case was just brilliant, I could feel the emotion of it. While Tolman has been surrounded by some killer players in this series (Colin Hanks, Odenkirk, Martin Freeman, Keith Carradine) I’ve never felt like they’ve carried any of the scenes. She’s really impressed me on every level during the series so far, and (I haven’t seen the last two episodes) but this one could be an Emmy submission. Brilliant work, Allison!

That about wraps it for tonight. What do you guys think? Is Lester in trouble now that Malvo is nearby again? Are Molly and Gus safe from Malvo? What’s Mr. Wrench gonna do? I’d love to hear your thoughts!! Only two more episodes left!!

[Photo via FX]

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